As the scores of upsets from around the country flashed on the big screen at Oklahoma Memorial Stadium on Saturday, it was almost as if Norman was the only sane place left in college football. It was such a wild weekend (eight teams in the Top 25 and four in the Top 10 lost) that it wouldn't have been outrageous to suspect that the Sooners would somehow trip up against No. 24 TCU. After all, the Horned Frogs were the last team to beat Oklahoma at Owen Field.
Oklahoma, however, sidestepped, shimmied and ran past the upset bug as well as TCU defenders en route to a convincing 35-10 win, becoming the only AP Top 4 team to win this week and in process cementing the Sooners as the clear-cut No. 1 team in the country.
No team in the country is as explosive as Oklahoma. The Sooners came into the game outscoring opponents 164-42 and were second in the country with a 40.7 average margin of victory. They looked well on their way to a fourth straight 50-plus point outburst and blowout after jumping out to a 21-3 lead, but seemed to sleepwalk after taking a convincing lead.
Sam Bradford set an Oklahoma record in the first quarter, passing for 199 yards and two touchdowns, before finishing with a career-best 411 yards and four TDs. His main target was Manuel Johnson, who set a school record with 206 yards receiving and three touchdowns on only five receptions.
Bradford is running an aerial option at Oklahoma, pitching it forward and racking up ridiculous yards through the air the way Barry Switzer used to do on the ground when they would regularly, as he would famously say, "hang up half a hundred," on opponents. Bradford has been given time to set up in the pocket and pick apart defenses and spread the ball around (eight different players had a reception on Saturday). Bradford, who is quickly becoming the Heisman front-runner, has been picking defenses apart as he calls plays at the line of scrimmage against defenses that often can't adjust or substitute the way they would like.
While Oklahoma has tried to keep its new high-paced, no-huddle offense balanced, it ran 36 times and passed 34 times Saturday. It's clear that the Sooners have the potential to be a one-dimensional football team, finishing with 411 yards passing and 25 on the ground despite equally distributing the ball. Some of the blame may fall on an offensive line that is good (Bradford was only sacked once through his first 120 passes of the season), but can get complacent if a game gets out of hand (Bradford was sacked three times and hurried several times in the second half).
Oklahoma should get back to hanging "half a hundred" on teams next week when they play Baylor, which would set up another classic "Red River Rivalry" game with Texas, which should be in the Top 4 by then. Before we look too far ahead, though, let's wait and see how next week plays out. We've already learned how quickly things can change for teams in the Top 4 this week.